Sweet Potato and Couscous Salad

This is a light, warm, lemony salad. I had a slightly different version at a friend’s house, and have since adapted it for taste, and to suit what I’ve had in the fridge. The roast sweet potato goes well with a green crunch – here I’ve used green capsicum, but baby spinach is lovely as well. I’ve always eaten this on its own, or with other salads, but I think it would go beautifully with lamb or chicken.

1 reasonably large sweet potato
2 carrots
1 green capsicum
1 cup couscous
half a lemon
olive oil
ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel the sweet potato, slice it in half lengthwise, and cut it into fairly thin slices. You’re aiming for a crisp outside and soft inside – no tiny slivers, but no huge chunks either. Slice the carrots into short strips.

Layer the sweet potato slices and carrot strips onto an oiled tray – you may need to use two, as you don’t want the vegetables piled on top of each other. Grind some pepper over them, and then cook for about 20 minutes. Turn up the oven to 250C, and bake for another 10 minutes to make them crisp.

While the sweet potato is baking, chop the capsicum into small pieces. Cook one cup of couscous according to the instructions on the pack.

When the vegetables are out of the oven, make the dressing. Lightly squeeze half a lemon into a small bottle, add 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of cumin powder, and shake the mixture until well combined. The amounts in the dressing depend very much on personal taste – this is quite lemony, and you may want to increase the cumin and the oil.

In a large bowl, combine the couscous, roasted vegies and capsicum with your hands. Pour the dressing over, and stir in with a fork. Turn the salad into the serving bowl, and enjoy.

Variations: baby spinach, roasted mushrooms, chilli, roasted or grilled chicken, canned artichoke hearts, grilled red capsicum, or grilled eggplant.

Roast Pumpkin and Feta Salad

This is more of an idea than a strict recipe. I like it during the week, as it’s the sort of thing you can start, wander off and do something else, and then return to the kitchen, and put the salad together. It’s a delicious light dinner, although it can easily be made more filling.

half a butternut pumpkin
feta cheese
cashew nuts
tinned artichoke hearts
mixed leaves or baby spinach

Chop the pumpkin into small triangles, and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes. Leave the skin on – it’s soft, edible and delicious.

Once the pumpkin is baked, and cooled a little, put together the salad. Put the mixed leaves or spinach in a bowl, and top with the pumpkin, slices of avacado, crumbled feta cheese, sliced artichoke hearts and a scattering of cashew nuts across the top. Dress with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Other variations – slices of roasted chicken, baked mushrooms, grilled zucchini slices, semi-dried tomatoes – the possibilities are endless.